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DEC 25th, CHRISTMAS 

Christmas

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‘Tis the season o be jolly’…yes, it most certainly is. And if you live in any of the predominantly Christian countries, then you know exactly what we’re talking about. It’s the “Diwali of the West” in terms of the beautifully decorated malls, homes, businesses and even communities! It is actually a desi festival too since Christianity is India's third-largest religion, with approximately 24 million followers, constituting 2.3 per cent of India's population.

But, Christmas goes way beyond the religion! It goes way beyond celebrating Jesus Christ’s birthday. As Indian Americans with kids born and raised here, we experience the festival with all its’ glory. Yes, it all starts the day after Thanksgiving when the kids very excitedly make us take out those boxes of Christmas tree, decorations and the tree ornaments that were neatly stacked away the previous year in the attic or the garage (keeping them all back after the season is over is a different story altogether.) The tree comes out first along with its “skirt”. All the ornaments come next as one-by-one the kids adorn the tree with ornaments either to go with the color theme (red, blue, green, golden or silver) or with ornaments that have been collected over the years, each signifying a special event in the family. In our family, kids each pick a custom ornament every year that reflects something special that happened in their lives- it could be a black-belt in karate, moving into a new house or that wonderful vacation in Hawaii. The tree looks rather pretty by now, but, of course it needs its final “jewel”, the star. That in itself is a ceremony. Our kids actually wear their winter PJs and the little one hops onto dad’s shoulder to very ceremoniously plant the star atop the now decked-up and lit Christmas tree. The older one “fixes” the star, making sure it’s just right. We then inaugurate our Christmas mugs for the season with coffee and hot chocolate! We are then officially ready for Christmas.That has become our family tradition for Christmas just as most families have their very own Christmas traditions. 

Of course, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the busiest shopping season in America, with the Friday after Thanksgiving being referred to as ‘Black Friday’- the day when families officially start their Christmas shopping standing in lines in front of stores from as early as 1:00 am or even sooner to get that limited duration deals. Some families and friends continue the Thanksgiving celebrations well into the morning to shop 
together. Then comes the Monday, popularly called the “Cyber Monday”, the busiest on-line shopping day, so now the Christmas shopping is well on the way! And so it continues right until Christmas Eve, as the last-minute shoppers work down their Christmas shopping list. The whole season is beautiful as Christmas songs fill the air wherever your shopping takes you. As you drift in and out of stores you catch, “Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer” or the “Santa Claus is coming to town” or the “Grandma got run over by a reindeer” or the “Deck the halls with boughs of holly, Fa la la la la, la la la la. Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la, la la la la”. And here lies the biggest difference, wish we had our special Diwali songs played over and over through the years.

Christmas Eve, Dec 24th, is celebrated with a good feast with family and friends with the gifts neatly tucked away under the tree. The feast itself is rather similar to the Thanksgiving feast with Turkey or Ham, Mashed Potatoes, Yam, Eggnog and Apple Pie among other items. There is anticipation in air and each person speculates what they’ll be getting. The evening ends with kids leaving cookies and milk for Santa.

Christmas morning, Dec 25th, is what the whole big deal has been about so far. No matter how much parents warn the kids about not making it in Santa's ‘nice' list, there are gifts for each child. As parents arm themselves with cameras and camcorders, kids approach their stockings and the tree, finding the gifts from their wish list, their delight and excitement duly recorded by the equally enthusiastic parents.

Hope this Christmas is all that wonderful and more for each and every one of you. We know as we celebrate the holidays, our thoughts will certainly go out in prayers for the families who have lost their loved ones. May God heal our nations and bless us with the wisdom to do the right and the strength to fight the wrong.

Wish You All A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

desityohaar

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